McConnell says government shutdown 'is not consevative policy' and won't happen again

10/20/2013 11:58 AM

Shutting down the government didn’t help Republicans get their way, and going that route won’t happen again, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell told Bob Schieffer on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“Look, shutting down the government in my view is not conservative policy. I don’t think a two-week paid vacation for federal employees is conservative policy,” McConnell said. “They’ll not be another government shutdown, you can count on that.”

In his only interview on the Sunday talk show circuit after helping broker the deal to reopen the government, McConnell also sidestepped questions about Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz — the most vocal senator in favor of shutting down the government in order to force Democrats to negotiate over gutting the Affordable Care Act.

“I certainly agree with Sen. Cruz that Obamacare is a train wreck,” McConnell said. “We’re going to do everything we can in the future to try to repeal it. But that requires a Republican majority in the Senate and a different president.”

As Cruz continues to press the issue , McConnell declined to say how he would deal with another push to go down that route, especially as this next round of government funding runs out Jan. 15.

“We’ve got a big conference with 45 … We have a lot of people with different points of view. We had some tactical differences about how to get to the repeal of Obamacare,” McConnell said adding that the health care law is the “worst piece of legislation passed in the last half-century.”

In the 12-minute interview, McConnell also addressed questions about how funding for the Olmsted Lock and Dam project on the Ohio River. The deal to reopen government including a provision for more spending for the project, which has cost $1.6 billion to operate and allows for billions of dollars in commerce to pass through each year. The project was capped at $1.7 billion and would have to close in November unless more money was authorized.

It would take more than $80 million to close it if money ran out and another $80 million to re-open it.

“It saves taxpayers $160 million” to just authorize more funding, McConnell said.

Other senators have said it wasn’t a kickback to McConnell in the deal. It was actually requested by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. — the chairwoman and ranking member, respectively, on the Senate’s Energy and Water Resources Subcommittee .

Nevertheless, McConnell has come under increasing criticism from the tea party and supporters of his primary opponent, Matt Bevin, since the deal on Wednesday.

McConnell told Schieffer that it will be difficult for his detractors to paint him as anything but a conservative and listed prominent supporters, such as U.S. Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — all with significant tea party support, and former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

“I think they’re going to have a hard time convincing Kentucky primary voters that Mitch McConnell is some kind of liberal … I think that’s a pretty hard sell and is almost certainly going to fail,” he said.

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